Environment Agency says several pollution sources are to blame for Scarborough South Bay’s ‘poor’ water quality

The Environment Agency has said that “much more” needs to be done to tackle coastal water pollution in Scarborough.
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The drop in water quality at Scarborough’s South Bay – which has a “poor” bathing water rating and advice against swimming – is linked to several pollution sources, the Environment Agency has said.

It comes as the Sons of Neptune environmental group recently called for increased monitoring and sampling to improve bathing water in the South Bay, which has suffered from water quality issues for several years.

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Pollution in the area has also impacted local businesses, with surf instructor Steve Crawford telling the Local Democracy Reporting Service that poor water quality in the South Bay had made him “redundant”.

The South Bay at ScarboroughThe South Bay at Scarborough
The South Bay at Scarborough

Currently, the Environment Agency carries out weekly testing of bathing water in Scarborough between May and September, but Sons of Neptune called for sampling funded by water companies to take place “irrespective of the bathing season”.

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Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “While the number of waters rated as ‘excellent’ has risen across Yorkshire, there is much more to be done to tackle pollution.

“Our investigations into what is driving the drop in quality at Scarborough South are ongoing – it is a complex issue as we know there are a number of different pollution sources that impact water quality at different times.”

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Freddie Drabble, the leader of Sons of Neptune, also said that the Environment Agency “might be willing, subject to satisfactory results of tests on the substantially upgraded effluent quality, to consider deferring a rating for the South Bay for the 2024 bathing season until the full year’s sampling results are available”.

However, the agency told the LDRS it would not normally consider a deferral on bathing water classification as it follows regulations set out by the Government which state that the bathing water classification is based on the previous year’s sampling results.

The Environment Agency spokesperson added: “Our teams are currently monitoring and sampling 19 bathing water locations across Yorkshire, including Scarborough South, and we will continue to work with the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership to understand the root of water quality problems and ensure people can enjoy cleaner, healthier waters.”